Friday, 26 April 2013

Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy #1) by Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: March 5th 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
(from Goodreads)

The Nightmare Affair, though having an attention-grabbing premise (not to mention a wonderful cover) was a pretty average read for me. I did enjoy it, but it was just a standard format YA with nothing really new or exciting to offer. I was really looking forward to a story about a Nightmare who has to feed off of people’s dreams, but while Dusty was a decent character, it did feel like a bit of a letdown because of the somewhat predictable mystery and lacklustre supporting characters.

Dust was an okay heroine, but again, didn’t really standout in any way. There were a lot of cliché things going on in The Nightmare Affair (e.g. typical mean crowd, cliques, losers vs popular kids, popular guy paying attention to unpopular girl, a whoopee cushion [didn’t those die out in the late 90s, seriously?] etc. etc.) and a lot of Dusty’s reactions were just typical response to these cliché events/conversations.  She was fairly funny, but the most interesting thing about her for me was the fact she was a Nightmare, and her strange connection to Ethan because of that side of her. I feel like Nightmares, while they were explained a bit, weren’t really focussed on as much as they could have been. I really would have liked to have found out more about them – especially Dusty’s mother, who seemed to be a horrible person at first (though my opinion of her changed as the book went on).

Ethan was just...blah. I neither liked nor disliked him. My opinion of him was pretty much the same as my opinion on forks, “Oh, they exist. But I don’t really think about them until I use them.”  I didn’t ever think of him until he showed up in the story, and even when he did, it felt like he was just there to carry out some purpose to move the story along, and there was no real fleshing out of his character of development of the relationship between him and Dusty. It wasn’t insta-love, luckily, which I was thankful for, but I just didn’t see anything between those two. This might be developed in later books (I do hope so), but until that happens, my opinion on Ethan will remain “meh”.

The plot was a little weak for me. I got what the aim was, but I feel like it was poorly executed perhaps. The writing style was slightly juvenile, and while that was good for a teenage voice, it made things easy to see through, characters easy to suspect and the mystery not very mysterious (though there were a few twists which I liked at the end). I also felt like things were resolved a little too quickly at the end, especially since people had actually died beforehand, though obviously it’s not the end of the trouble because there are more books to come! My favourite scene was probably the one at the beginning where Ethan woke up while Dusty was trying to feed on his dreams – very funny and the starting point of Ethan and Dusty’s association with each other. I did really like the fact that Dusty was unusual, even for a Nightmare, because of her ability which arises when with Ethan, and I would like to read more about it in the next book, which I will probably pick up to see if the writing style improves, but also because I am intrigued by what Dusty and co. will do next.

Overall, The Nightmare Affair wasn’t a brilliant masterpiece, but was definitely likeable, and if you’re looking for a fun book to pass the time, then pick this one up.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Review: Hidden by Marianne Curley

Hidden (Avena #1) by Marianne Curley
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: March 14th 2013
My Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Ebony has always known that she is different. Her violet eyes mark her out, and her protective parents have kept her in a gorgeous valley, home-schooled, safe from everything—almost as if she’s being hidden. But she’s changing: glowing, getting more and more beautiful, and stronger than anyone knows. Ebony can’t stay hidden for ever, and when she meets complicated, intense Jordan, something explodes inside her—something that can be seen from the heavens; something that changes everything. Ebony is a stolen angel, concealed on Earth. Now the heavens have found her, they want her back.

Fans of Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush Saga and L.A. Weatherly’s Angel series will adore Hidden. Full of irresistible romance and breath-taking suspense, this is a sensational start to a brilliant new series. Get ready to be swept away by this spellbinding story of eternal love. (from Goodreads)

I’ve got mixed feelings about Hidden. On the one hand, it had a really interesting premise and I’m excited to see where it’s all going. On the other hand, the way the characters acted sometimes was a bit unbelievable for me and I was able to guess something I assume was meant to stay a mystery until the end (unless I’m completely wrong and we were meant to work it out from the start).

Ebony was a character I sort of had a love-hate relationship with. I absolutely loved that she refused to believe she was an angel immediately and that she wouldn’t listen to Thane or Jordan because the whole thing just sounded absolutely absurd. She had been noticing changes in herself, but she still couldn’t bring herself to believe it was due to the fact she was an angel. I thought this was a really nice change to characters you see in YA these days that just accept supernatural statuses almost the second they’re told about them. “Oh, I’m immortal? Okay, that makes sense” or “Oh, you’re a vampire? Hmmm, I did think something was up. It’s cool, love you anyway!” Just no, to all these characters. No. You find out someone is a vampire? You run. Or you stay far away until they explain properly and prove your life is not in danger. But anyway, back to the point. I liked Ebony’s stubbornness on the matter. She was not willing to accept this stuff just because people kept telling her it was true – she needed evidence, to see things with her own eyes. But where her character went downhill for me is when she finally accepted she was an angel...and the insta-love that followed. Oh God. So much insta-love. It was the whole “but fate meant for us to be together!” type of insta-love where they feel that longing to be together, for no reason other than “fate” making it that way. Her “love interest” was Thane, the angel that saved Jordan’s life (Jordan being her ward...because she was apparently a guardian angel) and honestly, these two literally knew nothing about each other, NOTHING. Not even surnames! Yet by the end they were declaring their undying love. Siiigh. But not only that, there was an insta-love TRIANGLE. More on that later.

Jordan was another character I liked yet disliked. I did like his outlook on life, because it was sort of darkly humorous – life sucked for him, and that was it. He could help these angels all he wanted trying to make things better, but in the end, none of it mattered. Yet still he wanted to live, and he agreed to help Thane because he didn’t want to die. I thought it was clever the way he both wanted to live and yet didn’t really enjoy life because it made him seem more human – death scares most people, and when it comes down to it, most would rather live, however painful it is, than willingly walk into the unknown. However, Jordan, much like Ebony, suffered from characteristics that also made him seem like a pretty unbelievable teen. First of all, he said “dude” WAY too much. Way, way, way too much. Almost every other line contained the word “dude”. Teenage boys do not say “dude” this much. It really got on my nerves after a while, I wanted to strangle him. He even said it when addressing the angels...I mean, you think he’d be a bit too shocked by the fact that angels exist to say “dude” so much to them! Jordan also made some veeery stupid decisions at one point, which made me raise my eyebrows and go, “Reaallly? You think that’s a good idea?” But the worst thing for me, and this is where the insta-love triangle comes in, is how quickly Jordan seemed to fall in “love” with Ebony. He went from casually thinking she was attractive and maybe fancying her a bit to “I love her” with no development. Okay, he and Ebony knew each other a tiny bit better than she and Thane did (and Thane struck me as a strange guy – why on Earth was he so devoted to a [much younger, I might add] girl he had never met?), but still, the “I love you”s were coming too quickly, here! He had no reason to love her, he barely knew her. It’s like it all came down to the bond humans had with their guardian angels – once again, we’re playing the “fate” card. How can “fate” intend two different things?! And this weird love triangle came into play – which was complicated further by the fact that Thane and Jordan were actually becoming friends, or at least were friendly towards each other – honestly, their relationship was the one that got the most development.

Plot-wise, I found the start a little slow, but it got interesting fast, and was one of those books where you’re constantly turning the pages without a break to find out what happens next. Like I said at the start, the premise was very intriguing and I think there’s potential to do a lot with the story in later books (if it doesn’t focus on what happened at the end too much). However, there was one thing (mild spoiler, highlight to view: about Thane’s fiancée) that I guessed right from the start, and I don’t know if I was supposed to because it seemed like a lot of the characters’ assumptions/actions relied on this, so it would have been a bit odd to intend for the reader to know this fact from the start. But then again, I could be wrong – I just feel like there wasn’t as much mystery as there could have been. I did enjoy the story for the most part and the struggle Ebony went through trying to figure out who she was and where she came from. It was definitely great to discover how she really ended up living with a human family. There were a few lines, such as when one of the angels were described as “not having a feminine bone in her body”, that rubbed me the wrong way, but apart from that, I liked the writing style and thought it was coherent and engaging.

Overall, Hidden was a book which I felt had a lot of potential, but fell short because of insta-love and unrealistic characters. It wasn’t my favourite of angel books, but it was definitely better than a lot of the ones out there at the moment. If you’re a fan of angel books, give it a go, if not, maybe read a few more reviews before deciding.